In their understandable haste to cash in on the success of the Twilight series, director Catherine Hardwicke and writer David Johnson threw attractive people on a set without bothering to come up with a plot that makes them worth watching.
Red Riding Hood. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke. The cast includes Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, and Julie Christie.
By Sarah Sanders.
A retelling of the classic fairy tale, Red Riding Hood seems to have drawn more from current pop “literature” than from its original source material. Director Catherine Hardwicke, who previously helmed a similar Twilight concoction, apparently could not get enough of the subject matter or the body beautiful werewolves. In this adaptation, set in a snowy, medieval, mountain village plagued by a local werewolf, Valerie (Seyfried) is a beautiful, young woman caught between two equally as attractive young men. One is a handsome, daring woodcutter named Peter. The other is her fiancé, the wealthy blacksmith Henry. The set up narrowly escapes a potential legal challenge from the Twilight franchise.
For two generations, the werewolf has troubled Valerie’s village of Daggerhorn. They believe their monthly animal sacrifices have appeased the wolf, but when he attacks Valerie’s sister, the village must deal with the animal for once and for all. Daggerhorn’s priest calls in Father Solomon (Oldman), the famed dispatcher of witches and werewolves alike, who arrives with an entire entourage of armed men. A zealot, Father Solomon immediately declares the wolf is in fact a villager and that the danger lives among them. This sends the villagers into a flurry of suspicion; even Valerie begins to suspect that every person she speaks to is the beast, including those hunky love interests who are still vying for her affections! What’s a gal to do? It’s a big ol’ mess, if the audience cared.
No surprise, but Red Riding Hood doesn’t inspire a lot interest in its characters. Especially Seyfried, who is so impassive and uninspiring that it feels as if she has wandered in from a zombie movie. In one scene she sort of cries, though her eyes look dead. Very moving stuff.
No relationships have any depth of emotion, not Valerie and her parents, nor the girl with her grandmother. Her ‘deep’ friendships with the other village maidens feel more like quick meet ups at a modeling session. Valerie and the “love of her life” Peter are always busy lying down on the ground together, but they don’t do much talking standing up.
While Seyfried stands out for her total lack of enthusiasm, the entire cast struggles to make this guff compelling, except for Oldman, the only actor pulling his weight; at least he pretends to perform. Too bad his depiction of a religious, fanatical witch hunter comes off as over-the-top ridiculous, given the catatonia of the rest of the cast.
In their understandable haste to cash in on the success of the Twilight series, Hardwicke and writer David Johnson threw attractive people on a set without bothering to come up with a plot that makes them worth watching. Scenes just happen: people walk around the village for a bit, and suddenly Father Solomon puts the “village idiot” into a giant, steel, elephant-shaped oven. Nothing moves the film forward, though Hardwicke uses many of her tricks from Twilight, including the iconic (among females under 50) spinning, overhead shot of Bella and Edward lying in a sunny field, except this time it’s a spinning, overhead shot of Valerie and Peter in a snowy patch draped in her red cape.
To be fair, Red Riding Hood is pretty to watch, with lush, fantastical forests and perfect, snow-covered hills. The injustice is that to take in the scenery you have to listen to the actors speak.